During an in-flight press conference on his return from a pastoral trip to Slovakia, Pope Francis affirmed his support for the LGBTQ community, saying that there is a need for “pastoral care for homosexual couples”.
Stating that “If a homosexual couple wants to lead a life together, the state has the possibility to give them safety, stability, inheritance.”
This comes after several previous statements of support for the LGBTQ community that have culminated in his urging that the church “accompany” LGBTQ people ‘pastorally’. Meaning, that they are treated with the respect, compassion, and sensitivity that the Catechism of the Catholic Church requires. This includes listening and understanding their experiences, supporting the community, and making sure they feel more welcome in their own churches.
The Pope has also often stood against homophobia, and he took the press conference as another opportunity to denounce the kicking of LGBTQ people out of families stating that Jesus would never say “go away from me” to a gay person.
These recent developments have made it clear to the Church that the Pope is continuing to stand with the LGBTQ community to have a space in the Catholic Church. Though bordered by boundaries established in the sacrament, it is still a more progressive show of support than his predecessors.
Two noteworthy aspects of what constitutes this move are the Pope’s continued advocacy for the legal support and protection of same-sex couples in civil unions, and his encouragement to reach pastorally to homosexual couples, both of which contend with the practice of many other international Catholic Churches.
During the conference, the Pope revealed his desired approach was tempered by his opposition to “gender ideology”, as he was also someone who opposed ideologies in general because he sees it as “abstract” and therefore separate from people’s lived experiences. In his talk, he remarked that “gender ideology” was “dangerous”.
Because of this, his appeal for a more pastoral approach can be understood as one that seeks to offer care and accompaniment, but within certain limits, namely the limits of the sacrament of marriage. Despite this, people see this as his way of ‘carving out a space’ far larger than what the Catholic Church previously offered.
Although the Catholic Church has much to do before it can be considered truly welcoming of the LGBTQ community all over the world, Pope Francis has made it clear he is willing to put in the work.
Photo: Panay News